I have an interesting relationship with clothes. Whilst I appreciate looking half-way decent, I’ve never enjoyed the process of shopping. It’s far too stressful. Crowds, changing rooms, the concept of an ‘outfit’. My wardrobe used to consist of multiple ‘tops’ and ‘bottoms’ none of which ever seemed to match. So, imagine my delight when I discovered the ‘personal shopper’ experience. Once every two years, I’d turn up at my designated safe space, complete with comfy armchair, coffee machine and magazines and wait whilst the fashion fairy worked her magic. Not only was it a free service but I’d come away with a capsule wardrobe and strict instructions about what went with what.
I would have clothes for my work life, leisure and socialising. And, ok, occasionally something would fit too tightly, something wouldn’t feel quite right, or my complexion would crave a particular colour. After all, who doesn’t have fat days, off days and positively anaemic days? But in general, this ‘dressing by numbers’ suited me well. Then the pandemic struck and comfy Zoom wear became the on-trend craze.
‘Are you wearing those trackie bottoms again?’ the Nearly-Beloved would ask, rolling his eyes, ‘It’s like living with a wannabee Olympian with no hope of a medal.’ No thanks from him for the fact that I was saving on washing and ironing by re-wearing the same comfort blanket garments. And certainly, it’s not as if his fashionista advice is ever helpful. I mean, this is the man who never throws anything out. He just hangs onto his 1980s Hawaiian shirts and bomber jackets waiting for them to come back into vogue. In the meantime, double denim is his favoured retro image.
So, what a nightmare to emerge from lockdown to discover that my style miracle worker is no more and that department stores are a thing of the past, unless the perfidious John Lewis can tempt you to Leeds. I’ve tried online shopping but I find it too overwhelming. Too many websites, too much choice, too much time wasted. What’s more, my numbers never add up. On some sites 12 equals 10 and on others it increases value to 16. At any rate, nothing ever fits and the process of sending stuff back is beyond my mental capability. For now, I’m doomed to remain in 2019, pretending I’m rocking a vintage look and praying the moths stay away.
Grunting Teen, on the other hand, is turning into quite a shopaholic. He has his own signature style that the Nearly Beloved finds most confusing. ‘A pink T-shirt? Flowery trainers? Isn’t that rather girly?’
‘Dad! You’re so non-PC,’ replies our snappy dresser. ‘Besides, it’s sick, innit?’
‘Definitely,’ agrees his father, whose command of teenage slang is as good as his grasp of the latest couture.
But the family member with the most up-to-date outfits and the largest walk-in closet has to be our Little Angel. She is the best dressed of all of us and ready for any photo shoot or Instagram opportunity. Her wardrobe knows no bounds – one-pieces, two-pieces, jeans, dresses, casual wear and outfits for special occasions. All accessorised with headbands, hats and stylish bows. And yet she never spends a penny on herself. What a life she leads and one that I aspire to. Oh, to be five months old again and have an army of personal shoppers at your beck and call!